Guggenheim Talks "Pushing the Envelope" in "Arrow"/"Flash" Animated Spinoff "Vixen"

The CW surprised reporters at its Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour session Sunday afternoon with the reveal of "Vixen," in the form of promotional handouts announcing the animated project. Expected to debut in the fall, it'll be set in the shared universe of live-action hits "The Flash" and "Arrow," and stream on The CW's online platform, CW Seed.

The DC Comics character headlining "Vixen" is a bit more obscure than Green Arrow or The Flash. Created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner and first introduced in 1981's "Action Comics" #521, Vixen -- also known as Mari Jiwe McCabe -- is a character with African roots, who has been a member of multiple Justice League incarnations. Her powers are tied to the magical Tantu Totem, which puts her in a different category than the relatively grounded vigilantism of "Arrow" and the super-science of "The Flash" -- which, according to "Arrow" executive producer Marc Guggenheim, is kind of the point.

Guggenheim is also at the front of "Vixen," and CBR News spoke to the writer following the "Arrow"/"Flash" TCA event. Guggenheim described "Vixen" as a "six-part origin story," and shared that the team behind it plans to take advantage of the type of scale that's much easier to achieve in animation than in live-action -- along with depicting some big character moments that won't be seen elsewhere.

CBR News: Marc, what can you share about the just-announced "Vixen" animated project?

Marc Guggenheim: It's a great deal of fun, I have to say. I always love working in different mediums. We're going to do basically an animated spinoff. It's going to center on Vixen who, for me, I came to know as a former member of the Justice League.

It's a six-part origin story, but characters from "Flash" and "Arrow" are prominently involved. It's in the continuity and the world. There's actually a question I've been getting on Twitter a lot, "Is Oliver going to find out that Felicity kissed Barry?" That's actually going to happen in the "Vixen" cartoon. Part of the fun is that close cohesion.

And Vixen's such a great character. First of all, she represents magic, which is an area that we haven't explored on either of the two shows just yet. One thing we're always saying is, "'Flash' is very different from 'Arrow,' 'Arrow' is very different from 'Flash.'" If "Arrow" is crime and "The Flash" is science, "Vixen" has a big magic component.

The other thing is, it's a strong African-American hero who's, like I said, a former Justice Leaguer. It's set in Detroit, as a nod towards those Justice League [Detroit] stories. It's done with the same love of the source material that we bring to everything.

Two of the writers on the project, Keto Shimizu and Brian Ford Sullivan, are every bit as geeky as I am, so look for all the things hopefully you've come to know and love from "Flash" and "Arrow" in "Vixen": the Easter eggs, winks, the nods and the cool action.

One of the things we can do in animation is really push the envelope in a way that we can't on either of the two shows. So there's a much larger production value. We're taking advantage of the animated form. That's the other reason to do it.

Could this potentially lead to the character being seen in live-action?

We always say "never say never," and if the character resonates with people, that would be wonderful. I would love to be in a position where CW said to us, "Hey, we want a 'Vixen' live-action show." That'd be wonderful. We'll have to sort of see how things play out. But our goal really is to produce the highest-quality animated series. We want people to come to this who don't normally watch an animated show. We really want fans of "The Flash" and fans of "Arrow" to go to CW Seed. We really tried to approach it the same way we approach a pilot.

Will the actors from the show voice their characters?

It's funny -- a lot of the actors are just finding out. But the response has been very favorable and very cooperative. I can't speak for them, but all signs are good.

Keep reading CBR for more from the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.

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